Wrapping up 2014

He’s making a list and he’s checking it twice. Yes, as Christmas edges ever nearer, and Santa Claus looks back over the past year to see who has been naughty and who nice, here at Financial Adviser we are doing the same.

For this special festive feature, we evaluate the top 10 significant events of the IFA sector’s 2014. To nominate the year’s key moments, FA enlisted the help of three IFAs: Simon Thomas, head of regulatory policy at Tenet Group; Paul Howard, proprietor at Box Financial Planning; and freelance compliance expert Adam Samuel.

We asked some advisers to give their views on the topic areas, and to decide which of Santa’s naughty or nice lists each should sit. The naughty list is symbolised by coal, while the nice list is represented by a present. Here goes…

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Pension Freedoms (nice)

In the latter parts of George Osborne’s 2014 Budget speech, the chancellor unveiled a host of policies which changed the face of pensions as we know it. Pension freedom was the headline policy, giving people unprecedented access to their own pension pots.

Adviser view

Robin Sainty, chartered financial planner at Nurture Financial Planning, said: “It is wonderful that people can use their pension pot as and when they like without the say of annuity providers. However, there is a worry that a minority will go out and blow their pension with nothing to fall back on.”

The Care Act (nice)

This piece of legislation promises to create a stir in the health sector. The main part of the act is the introduction of a social care cap to the amount an individual pays toward his healthcare, which has been set at £72,000.

Adviser view

Frances Kemp, IFA at Nurture Financial Planning, said: “The changes are very positive for those in receipt of care or likely to receive care in the future, post-state pension age.”

She added: “However, as the country ages, I am concerned as to how this ever-increasing burden on the state will be funded.”

FCA takes control of consumer credit (nice)

On April 1, the FCA took over regulation of consumer credit from the Office of Fair Trading. Firms must now comply with the rules set out in the consumer credit sourcebook.

Adviser view

Robin Sainty, chartered financial planner at Nurture Financial Planning, said: “It makes sense for the FCA to take over consumer credit. There are currently too many agencies responsible for regulation in different markets. Having a number of regulatory matters under FCA control could potentially result in a better regulatory system.”

Disclosure post-implementation RDR thematic reviews (nice)

The RDR introduced a host of new guides, all aimed to promote greater transparency and fairness in the investment industry, which has had a major impact on the IFA – not in the least on disclosure.

Adviser view

Robin Melley, chartered financial planner at Matrix Capital, said: “The thematic review highlighted accepted best practice. Issues such as transparency, demonstrating value, high standards of professional practice and high levels of technical competence are some of the things that will help us to become a trusted profession.”